Joining the Feast. Year A Fall 2017 Season after Pentecost 2 Proper 17 Reign of Christ Westminster John Knox Press

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1 Year A Fall 2017 Season after Pentecost 2 Proper 17 Reign of Christ 1

2 September 3, 2017 November 26, 2017 What you will find in Joining the Feast! The Church Year Calendar Describes the important church festivals and special days for the coming season. It provides theological reflections on their importance for the church s life and our own lives. The Shape of the Season Presents an overview of the focus scriptures for the weeks in the coming season. It discusses the biblical and theological significance of each of the passages. Joining Worship and Learning: Making the Connections and Time with Children A helpful feature in this section of Joining the Feast is the inclusion of the stories on the focus scriptures from the multi-age course. These stories can be used in the children s time during worship. Notice that some songs are used by several age levels but not in the same session. If you are interested in including a prayer, poetry, or artwork from an age level, speak with the leader in advance. May your congregational worship be enlivened by these suggestions to join worship and learning. Joining Mission and Learning Help the participants in the Feasting on the Word Curriculum connect with existing service opportunities in your congregation. Review this list, and offer suggestions to the leaders. Give this chart to the chair of the mission or outreach committee so that the work of the committee can be strengthened through the church school. Litanies and Prayers A selection of poetic prayers and responsive readings that helps worship leaders connect the church s educational and worship experiences to find fullness and blessing in the praise and service of God. Children s Bulletins A fun activity page is provided weekly to give children a sense of belonging and help them feel welcome in the worship experience. These special children s bulletins connect their worship experience to the education themes. 2

3 September 3, 2017 November 26, 2017 Joining the Feast We invite you to Join the Feast! Our exciting Feasting on the Word Curriculum offers great opportunities for the local church. Pastors, educators, and participants can experience the wonder of God s nourishing word to us. For church schools, for study groups, and in preparation for teaching and preaching, the resources here will deepen and strengthen our faith. We have an amazing feast set before us! We desire and can find further understanding in our faith of who God is and what God has done! Joining the Feast helps pastors, educators, and worship leaders plan for education and worship. We want to assist in reflecting on how to incorporate scriptural and seasonal emphases across different parts of the church s life. Joining the Feast can be shared in education and worship committees. It enables important biblical themes to be integrated into the church s study and worship experiences. A chart of suggestions for ways educational emphases can be used in worship is a feature of what follows here. Church school teachers can discuss these materials with each other to enhance education for all age levels in the church. Pastors who plan their lectionary preaching will find taking an overall look at this church season to be useful for their preparations. In all this we want to join teaching and preaching. We want the church s educational and worship experiences to find fullness and blessing in the praise and service of God! An important goal for pastors and educators in the church is to connect or join the church s educational experience with the church s worship experience. People of all ages who participate in church school study can find their Christian faith enhanced when the Scriptures read and proclaimed in worship reinforce and expand what they have been considering in their educational time. Education and worship can be mutually supportive in helping God s word in Scripture come alive in the Sunday morning experience. Consideration of the same lectionary reading in preaching can deepen the insights gained in church school. Pastors who want to build on what has been done in education welcome this Feasting on the Word Curriculum as a way to prepare congregational members for directions into which the sermon can lead. Those who participate in the education time will find the insights gained there enhanced by preaching which considers the same passage and brings God s word to bear in fresh and nourishing ways. So as we Join the Feast, joining the church s educational and worship dimensions can bring to life the richness of God s word in Scripture. Donald K. McKim 3

4 Feasting on the Word Curriculum: Teaching the Revised Common Lectionary Feasting on the Word Curriculum is an exciting, ecumenical, downloadable curriculum resource. It incorporates the uniqueness of the Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary series (12 volumes; Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, ), which provides four different approaches to each of the biblical passages for each of the lectionary readings in the Revised Common Lectionary. Feasting on the Word Curriculum: Teaching the Revised Common Lectionary is designed for classroom use in the church among various age levels, including children, youth, and adults. Adaptable to a variety of learning settings and teaching styles, this innovative curriculum resource integrates the Feasting on the Word commentary style to explore one of the lectionary passages in ways suitable for all participants. This approach connects worship and faith formation like no other lectionary curriculum ever has. Each age level of Feasting on the Word Curriculum provides comprehensive, accessible, biblical background for teachers from four perspectives. What? (Exegetical) Basic information about the backgrounds and meanings of Scripture is essential to understanding. This stream asks, What? What are the important things to know about the contexts, language, and settings of the biblical passage? Where? (Theological) To understand the meanings of passages, we also need to ask, Where? Where is God in this passage? Where are God s will and activities being expressed? Theological questions about where God s word comes to us in the passage are significant. So What? (Pastoral) The implications of the passage for our Christian lives make the biblical passage come alive. We ask, So what? What does this passage mean to me? What does it mean for my relationship with God and other people? Now What? (Homiletical) Biblical passages shape our understandings and lives in the church. They connect us with needs in God s world. So we ask, Now what? This prompts us to reflect on how our life and the church s life can live out what the passage is saying. 4

5 In this final season of the year, during Year A of the lectionary cycle, we are living in Ordinary Time. In some traditions this is called the Season after Pentecost. During this period of the church year, we do not celebrate major feasts or festive dates or occasions. The period now, from September to the end of November, marks the usual beginning of the church s program year, after the summer period. We move through the fall seasonal calendar, the time when busy activities begin in the church and in the lives of many parishioners, especially those with children in school. It is a time when revitalized efforts in study and learning, mission and ministry, and worship and devotion can take place. While there are no special feast Sundays in the church during this period until Reign of Christ Sunday, two other significant Sundays stand out: World Communion Sunday (the first Sunday in October) and Reformation Sunday (the last Sunday in October). These two celebrations help represent the identities of Christians in the Reformed theological tradition. The season ends with Reign of Christ Sunday, the last Sunday in the church year. This Sunday celebrates the ultimate reign of Jesus Christ over all things. As such, it has many dimensions. It is a Sunday to consider The Church Year Calendar and celebrate ways in which God s reign in Christ is taking shape in the world and in our lives today, as well as to anticipate the final victory of Christ over sin and the powers of evil. The church s challenge, and our individual challenge, is to live in the present aware of Christ s presence and power even as we anticipate the full establishment of Christ s reign. As the Sundays of Ordinary Time after Pentecost continue through these months, we seek God s word in the ordinary events of life. Yet these seemingly normal events are all expressions of God s continuing presence and guidance for us in the church. We recognize the extraordinary in the ordinary! So though these weeks are not marked by special celebrations in the church year, they are the context in which we live out our experience of God s love and grace day by day. They are times to focus on corporate and individual responses to God s call as we explore what it means to live as the body of Christ. These are important times to carry out responsibilities of teaching and to concentrate on core We seek God s word elements of our faith to in the ordinary broaden and deepen our events of life. Christian understandings. 5

6 The Fall sessions begin by reminding us of who we are in relation to the God we encounter in Jesus Christ. Moses experience of God at the burning bush (Exodus 3:1 15) sets the man Moses in relation to the God who has called him and to whom he responds (v. 4). When it came to identifying who this God is, God gave the divine name by saying to Moses: I Am Who I Am... Thus you shall say to the Israelites, I Am has sent me to you (v. 14). The divine/human relationship is set here. God, the eternal I Am, has called Moses to follow God s will and live in relationship with the God who calls and commissions. The remaining lectionary passages for study during this season focus most directly on the Gospel of Matthew. These passages are appropriate for the church s life since they center on ways we live as called disciples of Jesus Christ and who this Jesus is. These two dimensions go together. Theologically, as Christians our discipleship as followers of Jesus Christ is based on who Jesus is, as the one to whom we give our love and entrust our lives. Jesus parables in Matthew point to his authority as the one who comes from God. He draws us into living as God s people and serving God s purposes in this world. We see in Matthew s stories that Jesus encounters opposition from those who do not recognize his authority and who seek their own purposes. As followers of Jesus, we find these same opposing forces today. Our proclamation of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord can meet with the same rejection Jesus himself experienced. As we live in ordinary time, we can expect the church s message of Christ to face resistance and antagonism. Jesus parable of the Wicked Tenants (Matthew 21:33 46*) and his denunciation of those who seek to exalt themselves (Matthew 23:1 12) are expressions of the impulses Jesus faced from those who questioned his authority (Matthew 21:23 32). Jesus came to show us how God wants us to live. The passages from Matthew are brimming with clear and direct expressions of how followers of Jesus are to express their discipleship in this world. These prescriptions for Christian living begin by directing us on how to deal with those who sin in the The Shape of the Season *Passages in bold are those that are focus scriptures in the Feasting on the Word Curriculum. The passages from Matthew are brimming with clear and direct expressions of how followers of Jesus are to express their discipleship in this world. midst of the Christian community (Matthew 18:15 20). Problems are to be faced head-on and personally. We then encounter the amazing commandment on forgiveness. We must forgive seventy-seven times, and this is illustrated in the parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21 35). This command of Christ stretches beyond where we often want to go. If forgiveness itself is tough, forgiving others time and time again without measure! is extremely difficult! We find in the parable of the Talents our command from God to use what we have been given in service to our Master, no matter how much, or how little (Matthew 25:14 30). This is our constant impetus in the Christian life. We are to be engaged in obedience to God s will and be involved in God s purposes for us. We give all that we are. The Scripture readings for this season include the greatest commandment of all: that we love God with all that is in us and love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:34 46). This summary of the law by Jesus stands before us as the center of theology and ethics: love of God and love of neighbor. What we hear Jesus say in the Gospels and what we see him do in carrying out his ministries are an expression of these main tenets. So preaching during this season should keep this vital commandment in mind. We understand all we do in the church and in our Christian lives as ways of living out these two essential prescriptions: love God and love others. Three parables during these weeks mark ways that our lives as Christians should be lived. These are kingdom parables, told by Jesus to express the new way of living that life in God s reign brings. The Laborers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1 16) directs us to look to God s generosity and realize that God s graciousness extends beyond our strict notions 6

7 of who deserves what! The parable of the Wedding Banquet reminds us that we come to the wedding feast by God s gracious call. Yet not everyone responds to God s invitation. Our participation in the feast is by God s grace (Matthew 22:1 14). In the parable of the Ten Bridesmaids, we find the need for preparedness and vigilance in our Christian lives. We are always to be ready, in the kingdom of heaven, for the coming of the bridegroom Jesus Christ. We are to live in hope and vigorous faith (Matthew 25:1 13). This parable reminds us too that we as individual believers are also part of the whole household of God, the communion of saints who live now in anticipation of God s future in the coming kingdom. In the midst of the sessions based on the Gospel of Matthew is one focused on the Gospel the beginning of Paul s first letter to the Thessalonians, where Paul commends the faith and example of the Thessalonian church members (1 Thessalonians 1:1 10). Despite their persecutions, they live in joy, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Living by faith, as an example of Christian living to others, is an appropriate expression of what the stories from the life of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew point us toward as well. The final Sunday of this season, the Reign of Christ, focuses on the judgment of the nations (Matthew 25:31 46). In the only parable in which Jesus refers to himself as a king, the nations and all individuals are judged. The criteria are what we have done to the least of these who are members of my family (Matthew 25:40). For as we have done unto them, we have done unto Jesus himself. In this judgment relating to eternal destinies, both the unrighteous and the righteous are surprised by the king s verdict. There are those who thought they were in and were surprised to find they were not. There are those who are surprised to find they are in since they evidently lived their faith without seeking or contemplating that their actions were anything other than what their devotion to Jesus Christ would lead them to do. This parable reminds us too that we as individual believers are also part of the whole household of God, the communion of saints who live now in anticipation of God s future in the coming kingdom. This parable stands as a warning and a comfort. It turns us away from seeing our faith as only a matter of thinking or speaking without acting. It turns us toward expressions of love for others, lived out in action. These are actions that Jesus himself set down in giving us the greatest commandment of all: Love God and love others (Matthew 22:37 39). The Reign of Christ will ultimately come, bringing in the reign of God to which Jesus life and parables point. Donald K. McKim 7

8 Joining Worship and Learning Joining the Feast This section of Joining the Feast includes the focus scripture stories for each Sunday from the multi-age course. These stories can be told during the children s time during worship. Notice that some songs are used by several age levels but not in the same session. If you are interested in including a prayer, poetry, or artwork from an age level, speak with the leader in advance. May your congregational worship be enlivened by these suggestions to join worship and learning. September 3, 2017 Exodus 3:1 15 Proper 17 Connections Worship Gathering response: Leader: We gather together in God s love. Children: We are the church. Closing charge: Leader: Let us go and live as God s people. We are not alone! All: God is with us! Closing litany on Resource Sheet 2 Age-Level Source (K) youth Music I m Gonna Sing When the Spirit Says Sing (K)1 2 Presentation of the Focus Scripture We Are Dancing in the Love of God 3 4 Amazing Grace I m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me This Little Light of Mine tween tween multi-age I Am by Bebo Norman youth Here I Am, Lord Skit on Resource Sheet 1 tells story of Moses early life. Story from multi-age is on next page. Script for dialogue between God and Moses on Resource Sheet 2 adult tween multi-age adult Sermon Memory verse: I will be with you (Exodus 3:12). (K)1 2, multi-age Meaning of God s name, I AM (K)1 2, 3 4, tween, youth, adult Visual Green cloth (K)1 2, 3 4, tween, multi-age Listening Ears Headbands from Responding God s call bulletin board from Responding can be extended to entire congregation. Flame-colored ribbon mobile; consider constructing a large one for the sanctuary. (K)1 2 tween multi-age 8

9 September 3, 2017 Exodus 3:1 15 Proper 17 God Calls Moses based on Exodus 3:1 15 When the Hebrew people were slaves in Egypt, they were very badly treated. But God had a plan to help them, and Moses was part of God s plan. Moses had grown up in the royal palace, so Moses knew about Pharaoh. When Moses was a young man, he ran away from the palace and lived in the wilderness, caring for sheep. One day, Moses saw something very strange. A bush was on fire. Well, the bush was blazing away, but it wasn t burning up. Suddenly, Moses heard God calling to him from inside the bush. Moses! Don t come any closer, God commanded. Take off your sandals. You are standing on holy ground. Moses did what God said and waited to hear what God wanted. I am the God of your parents and grandparents, God said. I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Moses covered his face with his hands, for he was afraid to look at the burning bush. I have heard the cries of my people in Egypt, said God. I have seen how badly they are treated and I have counted every tear they have shed. Now I am sending you to Pharaoh so you can lead my people out of Egypt and take them to a new home. Moses didn t think he could do what God was asking. I am nobody, Moses said. How can I go to Pharaoh and lead the people out of Egypt? I will be with you, Moses. I will help you, God answered. Yes, but... spluttered Moses. What if they ask me your name? What do I tell them? I AM WHO I AM, answered God. Tell them the one called I AM sent me to you. Tell them I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Moses obeyed God and went to Pharaoh. And that was the beginning of a whole new adventure. 9

10 September 3, 2017 Circle the item in each line that is part of the story. Color all of the other images. God Calls Moses based on Exodus 3:1 15 Long ago the Hebrew people were slaves in Egypt. They cried out to God to rescue them. God made a plan to save them, and Moses was part of it. One day, Moses saw a bush that was on fire, but it wasn t burning up. He heard God calling him. Moses! Don t come any closer, God commanded. Take off your sandals. You are standing on holy ground! Moses took off his sandals and hid his face while he listened to what God had to say. I am the God of your parents and grandparents, God said. I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I have heard the cries of my people in Egypt. I am sending you to the king to Pharaoh to tell him to let my people go. Then you can lead them to a new home. Moses didn t think he could do that! He said, How can I go to Pharaoh and lead the people out of Egypt? No one will listen to me! I will be with you, Moses. I will help you, God answered. Moses obeyed God and went to see Pharaoh. And that was the beginning of a whole new adventure. a b c d e a b c d e a b c d e a b c d e a b c d e Fall 2017 e, a, b, d, a

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